Shoulder Tap Push Ups Exercise Guide: How to, Muscles Worked, & Alternatives

shoulder tap push ups
Strong pushing up man looking at camera. Horizontal indoors shot

Shoulder tap push-ups activate your core muscles significantly. 

Push-ups are commonly recognized as the quintessential bodyweight chest exercise, yet their benefits extend far beyond that. They serve as a powerful upper body workout, engaging not just the chest but also the deltoids, arms, and core muscles. Intriguingly, research has linked push-up proficiency with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases (1).

We’ll focus on shoulder tap push-ups among the myriad push-up variations. However, becoming proficient in standard push-ups is crucial before attempting this more advanced variation. Shoulder tap push-ups offer a more intense workout, targeting the arms and chest while fortifying the core muscles.

This guide delves into the shoulder tap push-up, highlighting its significance and advantages for lifters. For a detailed step-by-step tutorial on performing this exercise and exploring other intriguing variations effectively, continue reading.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

Shoulder tap push-ups are a more challenging variation of regular push-ups. This advanced push-up variation targets your triceps, pecs, and shoulders while engaging other muscles, like your legs, abs, and obliques, for stabilization.

Shoulder tap push-ups are the perfect home workout because they can be done anywhere without equipment. This exercise focuses on developing functional parts of your body and tailoring them to your physical performance. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do shoulder tap push-ups. 

  1. Get into a plank position with your hands under your shoulders and palms flat on the floor.
  2. Push yourself to a high plank, lifting your elbows over your wrists. Your forearms should be vertical in this position.
  3. Like the traditional pushup, ensure your back is always straight, and your knees and hips never touch the floor. At this point, your legs should be shoulder-width apart.
  4. Next, squeeze your arms, core, and your glute for stabilization. This is your starting position.
  5. Exhale, then push your body up, extending your arms and elbows. As you extend your arms, lift one of your arms from the floor and tap it on your opposite shoulder.
  6. Lower your body back to the starting position.
  7. Next, lift your body again, but this time, extend the other hand and tap it on the other shoulder.
  8. Lower the body back to the starting position again. This completes one rep.
  9. Repeat for multiple reps.


Shoulder tap push-ups are effective bodyweight exercises for developing your arms, chest, and delts. They’re also excellent for strengthening your core. Below are other benefits of integrating shoulder tap push-ups into your workouts.

Upper Body Development

The shoulder tap push-ups exercise targets most of the upper body muscle groups. It can help you develop these upper body muscles for greater gains. This study shows how push-ups can activate similar muscle groups to the bench press for your upper body (2).

Improves Stamina & Endurance

This exercise puts tension on all the muscle groups in your body simultaneously with just one movement. This helps with the general body stamina. It also improves your endurance by pushing these muscles to their limit.

Total Body Stabilization

The shoulder tap push-up exercise requires a lot of body stabilization, especially when balancing on one hand. To sustain balance, the body activates stabilizer muscles. Over time, this routine will improve your stability and strength. 

Core Activation

Proper shoulder tap push-ups require significant activation of your core muscles. As you balance on one arm, you force your abs to work harder. This builds a strong core and helps prevent injuries.

Shoulder Tap Push Ups Alternatives

Shoulder tap push-ups test your whole body and are excellent for developing your upper body and core. However, they aren’t the only exercise for training your upper body muscles. Here are other routines that you can also try to help you prevent the training monotony that comes from doing the same exercises over and over. 

Bench Press

Bench presses are an excellent way to develop your delts, chest, and arms. For this exercise, you need a barbell and a flat bench. Pushing the barbell up and down with heavy weights helps with upper body development.

Incline Dumbbell Fly

The incline dumbbell fly targets the pecs while engaging the delt muscles, which extend to the other upper body muscles. Squeezing your core will help with balance when doing this exercise. Also, using a dumbbell in each hand can help you find and fix any imbalances between both arms. 

Renegade Row

The renegade row is an excellent exercise for your lats and rhomboids. While it builds these upper body muscles, it also improves midline stability, strengthening your ability to stay stable during routines like the plank and push-ups.


What do shoulder tap push-ups do?

Shoulder tap push-ups are a compound exercise that targets the upper body muscles while strengthening the core. This exercise is an advanced variation of traditional push-ups and usually takes time to master. 

What muscles do tap push-ups work? 

The shoulder tap exercises activate the shoulders, chest, and arms. They also activate the core and leg muscles for stabilization. The above article explains the muscles that this exercise works.

What can you do instead of shoulder taps?

Other alternatives to shoulder tap push-ups include bench press, incline dumbbell fly, and renegade row. The above exercise guide summarizes these exercises.

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  1. Yang, J., Christophi, C. A., Farioli, A., Baur, D. M., Moffatt, S., Zollinger, T. W., & Kales, S. N. (2019). Association Between Push-up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men. JAMA network open, 2(2), e188341.
  2. Tillaar R. V. D. (2019). Comparison of Kinematics and Muscle Activation between Push-up and Bench Press. Sports medicine international open, 3(3), E74–E81.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.